Greed is still good.
Grabbing his shiny gold Rolex and massive mobile phone, deposed capitalist titan Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) steps out of prison 23 years after Oliver Stone’s '80s original to learn one of life’s key lessons: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
We’re back on the brink of the 2008 financial apocalypse, as mini-Gekko Shia LaBeouf (watchable, keen, but never that interesting) attempts to marry the big man’s estranged daughter Carey Mulligan (irritating boy’s haircut, good at crying), while becoming Gekko’s protégé in a bid to take revenge over ruthless big-business rival Josh Brolin (effortless suave as a modern money-making bastard).
There’s plenty of script to chew through here, but Stone breezes it, playfully throwing in split-screens, iris fades and other cine-trickery. The director and his screenwriters Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff throw out shovelfuls of financial jargon (shorting, sub-primes, hedging), but the movie moves so smoothly you never need to ponder the details.
Despite mystifyingly going AWOL for long stretches of the film, Michael Douglas is a true guilty pleasure as Gekko. This talky melodrama is most alive when he’s on screen, double-bluffing our expectations with a new moral ambiguity while eating up the film’s tastiest zingers. That great new mantra? "A fisherman always sees another fisherman from afar…"
If the greedy moral void of the noughties makes the '80s look like Disneyland, Stone’s first ever sequel is having too much fun to take a bite out of today’s world. Has Stone gone soft? His Bush-burning biopic W. also packed more affection than anger, and once again, Wall Street falls in love with the shiny surfaces of capitalism that it’s supposed to critique –cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto ogles the suits and skyscrapers with luxurious tracking shots that drift like cigar smoke.
After we spot a picture of Kirk Douglas on the wall while Gekko is getting a suit fitted, up pops Charlie Sheen before Stone hands himself a cameo. Three of them, in fact. Clearly, he’s having fun here. And so are we. No surprises: greed is still good.
Stone’s first sequel and one of cinema’s great villains.
A little toothless, but hugely entertaining.
Stone swaps fury for fun. But it sure beats another Fidel Castro interview.